Figures released under a Freedom of Information (FOI) request show that, as of 30 April 2017, there were 4,177 firms permitted to conduct DB pension transfers in the UK, up from 3,560 the previous year.
The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) also revealed that that number increased every single month between April 2016 and April 2017 without fail.
Since the introduction of the pension freedoms, demand for advice and transfers has continued to rise.
Recent figures from HM Revenue & Customs showed that the total value of pension pots accessed under the freedoms in the three months to June 2017 was £1.86bn ($2.4bn, €2.1bn), the largest amount ever paid out in a single quarter.
Between January and June 2017, no firm had their permissions to conduct DB transfer business cancelled at their own request.
However, four companies during the period voluntarily agreed to stop conducting DB pension transfers. Three companies had their permissions changed in June, while one had restrictions put on their pension transfer activity in March.
The firm from March later ceased all regulated activity in May.
None of the company names were disclosed by the FCA; however, it is likely that the company that had its permissions changed in March was Holborn Assets, which International Adviser reported in early June had temporarily ceased all regulated activity in the UK following the lapse its professional indemnity (PI) insurance.
The company remains regulated and is working to regain its permissions.
The release of the figures follows comments from the chief executive of a UK retirement advice firm who has warned that public trust in pension advice is being destroyed by “so-called industry experts”.
UK Workforce Solutions’ boss Simon Chrystal believes that some elements of the industry are pushing their agenda and “routinely and arrogantly” slamming advisers in the press.
He concedes that there are “rogue advisers” in the sector but said that “so-called pension industry experts continually crowing in the media” are “destroying trust in pensions at a time when access to retirement advice is more important than ever”.